Shoreham Beach Goings On


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Having started a loft conversion last week, I would have expected to be in full swing by this week, but as the lads I’m working with had a refurb to fit in, I gratefully accepted the chance for a weeks rest, following on from a busy few weeks previous. So, other than an irritating cold which currently stalks me like an unwanted guest, I have been doing some of the things I don’t often either, get the chance to do, or have been too effing lazy to do when I had the opportunity. Hence, this will be my second blog in a week, actually filled with stuff of interest to me, and I hope for you two too, (ballet type reference humour unintentional).

Firstly, I’m happy to be able to say, that the prototype HM12, Horn Monitor speaker has been declared a success, and has been given the green light for production as a result, construction pics to follow, and I get to hear it in action later this week. This was the third prototype I’ve made for them, all completely different in design, but while the previous two gave a good sound apparently, it wasn’t of the mind blowing calibre for which they have been searching, while the latest effort they told me, is “amazing”, so I’m looking forward to hearing it performing. This is a relatively new line of work for me, but not a million miles away from some of the Research and Development stuff I’ve been involved in during my working existence, variety after all, is the spice of life, and certainly beats the crap out of hanging doors, or fixing kitchen units together, roof contruction is the only site carpentry left that gives me the same sort of comparable buzz and satisfaction.

I had a phone call from a friend, Ben Coe, this week, informing me that a photo op would be presenting itself today, (Thursday), with the Footbridge being opened to allow what will be the latest riverbank houseboat through, at around midday ish, so I hot tailed it along there. Armed with cameras and note book to witness and document what could prove to be one of, if not, the, last occasion of this Footbridge opening before it is replaced later this year, I set myself up and awaited this historical moment to unfold. Alas, after snapping away at wildlife for a bit, chatting to Gav, who had also come along to witness the momentous event, I checked my phone and spotted a new message, from Ben, it had all been postponed until Friday now. This is the second time I’ve had this happen, let’s hope it goes ahead as planned tomorrow, and also that the weather is as pleasant as it has been so far today! Gav has invited me over to his houseboat for a cuppa prior to the event, so that’s my mid morning taken care of, I think this week could actually qualify as a very leisurely, ‘Staycation’, one of the newer terms to come out of this recession, double dip or otherwise.

Having had my plans thwarted regarding river movements and bridge openings, I remembered that the old Coastguard station building was being demolished this week along at the Old Fort, so I drove down there to see how that was coming along. There were a good number of people busying themselves on my arrival, but the machinery was at a standstill, so I presumed I’d arrived at a tea break, so wandered around taking pictures for a while, eventually stopping at the ‘Hold The Fort’ tea hut for a coffee and chat with the volunteers. Gary Baines, who has been the driving force behind the whole Fort Restoration project so far, then informed me that work had been called to a halt on the demolition while they awaited a risk assessor, as the workers had raised concerns regarding the structure coming down, and now someone from English Heritage with archeological knowledge would be coming down to assess the situation.

Now I realise health and sfatey is an issue not to be taken lightly, and preservation of existing ‘Heritage’ structures needs to be considered, but sometimes, I think certain people need to be removed from eyesight and earshot to allow a bit of Fred Dibner style deconstruction to be got on with unhindered. I’m sure we can all think of a hundred or more reasons why something shouldn’t happen, and what might go wrong, but assessors won’t be the ones footing the bill for a workforce sitting on its arse while the decisions are made, not to mention the machinery sitting idly by, it’s a bit like flushing freshly minted notes down the toilet. Of course these assessors will have reams of evidence of previous disasters elsewhere telling you why you should beware, but they don’t have any evidence of all the times that they weren’t involved and nothing at all went wrong, but where if they had been involved the job would have been stopped dead in its tracks, firms gone bust waiting for the go ahead, and men holding their palms up declaring, “sorry mate, our hands are tied”, but still getting paid while nothing happens. I have a friend who acts as an assessor for a bank on such issues, or has done at least, and he reads this blog, I have no doubt I will be informed of how wrong I am by him, and how it is all for our own good in the long run. I won’t agree, and he will tell me I know nothing about such things, our latest disagreement revolves around the lath and plaster ceiling that came down last week, he insists over boarding should not be an option, I disagree, but regardless of what either of us believe, the customer will be given the choice, and the chance will be theirs to take, but I digress.

I also chatted to Gary about potential patrons of the site and its work, thinking mainly of Nicholas Lyndhurst, the actor, as his Grandfather, F.L. Lyndhurst, was the founder of the, ‘Sunny South Film Company’, which used to have its film studios on Shoreham Beach in the early 1900’s, even having been known as Shorehams very own, ‘Hollywood’. Unfortunately, it seems Mr Lyndhurst, while wishing the project well, would prefer not to be a formal patron, at this point in time at least, which, while being a shame, is not an entirely closed door I hope. If some bright spark could come up with a premise for a comedy drama invloving the Fort, its military history, and combine it with the film studio history, a decent script, and plenty of laughs, then I reckon we could tempt a return of the Nicholas Lyndhurst/ David Jason partnership, a bit like a Victorian Dads Army at the Fort, progressing with some tenuous link towards the Shoreham Beach Hollywood era, and a plethora of characters from the entertainment world that Bungalow Town had to offer, so if either of you reading this can write humorous scripts, or know somone that can, then please get scribbling, and let’s see if we can’t tempt a little TV money towards helping out the Shoreham Fort project!.

Fun and games on Shoreham Beach, who would have thought this little peninsula could be so full of drama?, well me actually, I’m forever promoting the many and varied reasons why I believe people should come and take a look at the stuff this place has to offer, and thereby to better understand the facinating history that goes with it. It isn’t geeky, dusty book, history, it’s get your hands dirty, (if you like), touchable, viewable, in your face history that kids and adults alike can enjoy, so if you haven’t already, then get over here and have a look around, prepare to be surprised, and, hopefully, involved too. Bring the kids, bring friends, bring your enthusiasm, energy, a camera, and whatever else blows your dress up, I love this place, and I’m pretty sure you would too.


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